Thursday, 2 September 2010

Parable of the Unjust Judge

"Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about human beings. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.' "For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about people, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!'
And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"

I know this will seem obvious to most people, but I was really struck, when reading this parable recently, at how much it was about justice and liberation. I had always read it as a slightly odd tale about prayer - comparing God to an unjust judge never really seemed to work for me. But, recently I have become aware of unjust judges everywhere - judges who send asylum seekers back to countries where they are threatened with their lives; this judge, who acquitted an Israeli soldier after emptying his rifle into a Palestinian school girl. The parable appears, in this light, to be about the power of nagging unjust officials - apartheid ended because the international community kept going on and on about it. It is also about a conviction that justice is on its way because God is committed to justice. As Martin Luther King said, "the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice". Keep nagging unjust officials and believe in God's commitment to justice. Is that what its saying?